Dialogues

Mission

The aim of the Dialogue Project is to encourage interaction between students from AUC and other universities around the globe via academic courses and extracurricular activities based on the principles of cross-cultural dialogue, incorporating various engaging mediums such as videoconferencing technologies. This multifaceted set of activities gives students the opportunity to explore the dialogue process with counter-partners, discussing topics that range from current local/regional events to a wide variety of global socioeconomic, political and cultural issues. The Dialogue Project also organizes face-to-face interaction between AUC students and other university students from around the world.

Background

In the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, the Core Curriculum at The American University in Cairo sponsored a special project designed to use Internet videoconference technology and other forms of communication to promote dialogues between students at AUC and students in university classes in the United States. Informally dubbed "The Dialogue Project," this initiative began with a series of extracurricular dialogues with students at New York University, the State University of New York at Albany and the University of Maine, covering a period from mid-November of 2001 through the spring semester of 2002.

From here, the Dialogue Project evolved in a number of different directions, the most significant being the establishment of a three-credit-hour course focused upon a weekly videoconference with students at an American university. In the spring of 2003, an existing course title, SEMR 300, was used to launch a pilot for a videoconference course. The successful completion of this course was used as a springboard for the development of an entirely new course, Cross-Cultural Perceptions and Representations (SEMR 310) fully dedicated to the videoconference format. First offered in the fall semester of 2003, five sections of this course have been taught, including a special course offered in the fall of 2004, focused on the issue of gender treated cross-culturally and conducted with students in a class at Yale University.

With the outbreak of the Arab Spring, the project also introduced two new academic courses that are mainly based on partnering with universities from the Arab world and the global south: Spring in Arab Eyes and South-South Dialogue. Both courses have witnessed the participation of an expanding array of partners from the Arab world and the global south, including universities from Lebanon, Tunisia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Iraq, Kyrgyztan, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, Senegal and Nigeria.

In addition to dialogues conducted as part of the Seminar 310 course, the Dialogue Project also sponsors extracurricular dialogues which come in two forms: first, single-session videoconference dialogues with university classes from counterparts around the world; and second, face-to-face dialogues with international groups/individuals visiting AUC. And, along with the Department of Political Science at AUC, the Dialogue Project also sponsored a special topics course, Arab and American Identities in Tension (POLS 430), which brings students from AUC and other U.S. and Arab universities together in Cyprus for two weeks each summer to live together and discuss issues concerning the relationship between the United States and the Arab world.

Moreover, the Dialogue Project has administered AUC student involvement in the Soliya program in which students, sitting at personal computer terminals equipped with web-cams and headsets, join group discussions with students from universities in the United States and the Arab world.

Experiences

These are a few testimonials that reflect students' and professors' experiences with the AUC Dialogue Project:

Nesreen Hussein, lecturer in drama and theatre in the School of Arts, University of Kent, wrote:
"Particularly looking at 'women in revolution,' the session was very stimulating, thought-provoking and highly engaging. The dynamic discussion touched on some of the issues related to the politics and economics surrounding women's presence and participation in contemporary Egyptian society, and how this can be misrepresented or misperceived in the 'West' and its media. Kent students were keen on engaging in the discussion and asking questions, and AUC students were equally engaged, very dynamic, and keen on articulating their views with clarity and conviction...  Needless to say, this is a very productive method of extending a dialogue between students across cultures and communities, on both national and international levels. It has huge potential for diverse fruitful collaborations. Thank you for supporting our participation."

Eric Miller, PhD in folklore, director, World Storytelling Institute, IITM, India
"Thanks again for partnering us in the videoconference... Discussion of traditional characters could be blended with discussion of personal (and political) experience and identity."

Megan Karsh, Royal University of Law and Economics, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
"Our students gained a lot of benefits from the exchange... I would very much like for the two programs to collaborate again in 2012!"

 

Contacts

Ghada El Shimi
Interim Dean of Undergraduate Studies; Director, Core Curriculum Program

Matthew Hendershot
Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies 

Mohamed Fahmy Menza, PhD

Affiliate Professor & Director of Dialogue, Core Curriculum

Michael Lattanzi, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Riham Bahi, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science 

Salma Abousenna

Specialist, Dialogue Program, Core Curriculum

Dialogue News

Please find below some links for stories and publications about the Program from various sources.

http://www.aucegypt.edu/news/stories/auc-summer-class-visits-lebanon-eng... (AUC News story about summer course)

https://books.google.com.eg/books?id=KTbZDQAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq... (book chapter about the Global South course)

http://www.aun.edu.ng/news/aunthisweek/2329-students-engage-au-cairo-cou... (AUN story about Global South course)

https://documents.aucegypt.edu/docs/llt_clt_ChalkTalk/Volume%2013/Vol%20... (CLT Poster Presentation about the AUC Dialogue Program)

https://academic.aucegypt.edu/caravan/story/seminar-course-bridges-cultu... (AUC Caravan story)